Cannibal Halfling Gaming has been working to Bring Games and Gamers Together for four years, and this last one has been by far the strangest. Despite everything, while it has definitely been a year of two steps back, I think in the ways that mattered we managed to take three steps forward. Let’s take a look at what we’ve done, and have a think about where we’re going next.
We’ve published 5 Glimpses Into The Vault, 1 Bargain Bin Gaming, 32 Editorials, 3 Indie Frontiers, 12 Kickstarter Wonks, 12 Level One Wonks, 3 Meet the Campaigns, 3 Meet the Parties, 7 System Hacks, 13 Independents, and 6 Why You Should Listens (our new category for the year), for a total of 97 articles since 12/23/2019 as of this post (not counting this one).
We also released 6 more episodes of Cannibal Halfling Radio! We talked about secrets, game design, and playing during the pandemic (from online games to 1-2 players games). We also took our first forays into actual play episodes with Ryuutama and Band of Blades. A very modest offering, to be sure, but they’ve been fun to do, and the pace has matched both the year and all the writing we do.
Our top ten viewed articles published this year, from 10th place to 1st, are Alice Is Missing, Degenesis: Rebirth, Quest, Cortex Prime, Burning Wheel In-Depth, Level One Wonk Advancement, Mörk Borg, Around the OSR in Five Games, Powered By The Apocalypse: How A Rule-System Nurtured A Queer Fanbase, and Cyberpunk Red.
The ‘tail’ of older articles still getting views was healthier than ever – by the time you get down to Alice Is Missing on the list you’ve passed eight articles from 2019 or earlier. all of which got more than eighteen hundred views in this year alone.
Here’s the thing, though – I don’t really feel like the top ten really captures what we accomplished this year. Obviously reviews remain the top draw, that’s never going to change . . . but hinted at with Burning Wheel up above, we explored the difference between reviews and in–depth critique. From worldbuilding to using tropes to enabling seeing yourself in the game we spent more time looking at what goes into a roleplaying experience. Shares of Patreon money were donated, and time and words spent, supporting games making an effort for causes that matter, as well as supporting the causes themselves directly.
Our ranks also grew again this year! Thomas brought a design team and game into the spotlight that we otherwise would have (tragically) missed, and Maria’s brought a perspective and a degree of community contribution we were badly lacking – creating the Why You Should Listen Category in the bargain.
So, while by the numbers 2020 was a step backwards – fewer articles, fewer words, fewer views – I think the quality of what we’ve produced has on average been higher, more diverse, more thoughtful and well thought-out. If we can keep growing in that direction, then I think we could write half of what we did this year and still be making an important contribution.
It’s also been a productive year for various Cannibal Halflings outside of CHG’s digital halls. I sent a fleet of Transit-capable vessels on a Dahvil Delivery, and as part of National Game Design Month typed up QUILL.exe: Transmissions from the Black. Jason tackled ZineQuest and brought a much-polished Our Queen Crumbles into the physical realm. Thomas tinkers quite a bit, from co-op dice mechanics to ways to play Spire in Blades, as well as full games like The Spider and The City and Panchatantra. Maria has also released all sorts of things – Hero Too and Get Your Game On are two examples of a swathe of material – while also joining the writing team for Thirsty Sword Lesbians!
As a result, things around here have felt a little . . . co-op ish? Maybe a better term would be ‘mutual hype squad’. Designing games while often reviewing games is a tricky business, of course. First of all, there’s only so much time and energy, especially in this year. Not much to be done about that, really.
Second, you don’t want to throw stones in your own glass house – giving something a negative review while hyping your own stuff can have vibes of using others as rungs in a ladder, especially in the hardscrabble indie scene, and it’s been our observation that way too many people are willing to do that. I think that by and large the unwritten CHG rule, to keep ourselves to writing about things we actually like and to avoid as best we can tearing anything down just because we don’t like it, have served us well so far. It’s something we’re going to want to keep focusing on, though, so that we continue to be a positive force in the industry instead of wielding our influence like a hammer.
I don’t know what 2021 is going to be like, in the end. For a good while, at least, it’ll likely be more of the same. But as Cannibal Halfling Gaming heads into its fifth year, I know that I’m going to keep trying to bring in more voices, and I’m going to keep writing about, talking about, creating, and – as Aaron said, most importantly – playing games because in a very real way they can matter. We need to find ways to enjoy ourselves, to tell stories that mean something to ourselves and others, and to support one another, now more than ever. I hope that in 2020 we were able to provide you with a smile or a cool idea or a fun experience when you needed one, and I think I safely speak for all of us when I say that we’re gladly going to keep trying to do so.
Thanks to Aaron, Aki, Ari, David, Geni, Magdalen, Maria, Jason, Jimmy, and Thomas for all of your contributions, big and small. Thank you to our supporters, whether they’ve backed us directly on Patreon or clicked on fine and elegantly crafted Affiliate links. And thank you to you our readers, for visiting our little hole in the wall.
Stay safe out there, play some games, and may it be a Happy New Year.